Today is Earth Day – Do Something Special for the Planet

Cover pic Environmental Council of Sacramento

“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.”

― Noam Chomsky

In the fantastical political landscape we are inhabiting right now, those in power energetically pursue their own materialistic, money-driven agenda. What if in the process their hobnail boots trample all over the environment, animals, conservation, science, public lands, people, the climate. The whole shebang. Planet Earth itself. And leave behind a footprint that is anything but small and green? Are they blinkered by greed, or do they simply not care?

Earth Day Saturday 22nd April is our chance to show the clique now in the seats of power that we hold dear what they despise. They are too shortsighted – but we are not – to see that the paths of self-interest they have chosen lead straight to doomsday, armageddon, the apocalypse. Whatever you like to call it. The end of life on Earth as we know it. Truly.

The stakes could not be higher.

So here is a selection of ways we can join over 1 billion other people and testify to our celebration of, and our firm intention to, safeguard the wonder that is Planet Earth

Show your solidarity by taking part in an Earth Optimism event near you

Dr Jane Goodall will be topping the bill in Cambridge UK, where there will be talks and activities for all ages. Not forgetting the event taking place in London.

Dallas, Washington DC, New York, Santa Fe, Miami, Chicago and many other US cities, as well as Finland, Columbia, Canada, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Panama are all staging events and celebrations of their own. For the full program click here.

Or join the March for Science taking place in more than 500 communities worldwide

Find a March near you. If you can’t make it in person, join the Virtual March.

Find out more about the March for Science here and here

Dr David Suzuki also tells us “Why We Must March for Science”:

Because “politicians are supposed to work for the long-term well-being of people who elect them, not to advance the often shortsighted agendas of those who pay large sums of money to get their way regardless of the consequences …” Read more here

Professor Brian Cox on the Role of Science in a Democracy

“This Earth Day is all about celebrating Every Corner of the World!” says Team Sierra. They want you to
  • get outside and join in by hiking in YOUR corner this Earth Day
  • Share what is special about your corner of the earth using hashtags #EveryCorner and #TeamSierra
  • Raise funds to help protect the planet

Discover more here

Join the Earth Day Network here

Want to know more? Find out about Earth Day: Facts & History here

And don’t put those marching boots away! Keep them ready for People’s Climate March 2017 next weekend, Sat 29th April


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There is Always Hope for the Animals & the Planet

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There is Always Hope for the Animals & the Planet

“If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.”

― Noam Chomsky

There is no denying that the planet faces serious problems on so many levels: war, terrorism, poverty, hunger, disease, the environment, pollution, global warming and extinctions. What makes it more difficult to find solutions to even one of these intractable issues is that all are woven together in a complex nexus.

But if you’re drowning in a daily deluge of bad news like sometimes I feel I am, and losing the will to get out of bed in the morning, feeling helpless and hopeless, disempowered by the magnitude of the problems, don’t despair. Rescue is at hand!

If you haven’t already met it, it’s time to introduce you to my new discovery Earth Optimism, tagline

‘Change is positively possible’

“Earth Optimism is a global initiative that celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution, from a sense of loss to one of hope, in the dialogue about conservation and sustainability.”

Watch their inspiring little video.

Explore their home page and sample some of the great posts from their blog.

In April 2016 Sir David Attenborough

the most famous naturalist on the planet, abseiled down a green wall in the atrium of the brand new David Attenborough Building, Cambridge. The building named for him forms the campus of a new global conservation hub, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative – the largest grouping of nature conservation organisations and university researchers in the world. Big names among them include the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

At the official opening Sir David addressed those present:

“The future of our life on Earth is dependent on the natural world – for the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we use – and for the feelings we have of awe and wonder at nature’s extraordinary riches. In this remarkable age we are learning more and more about the intricacies of our dependence on nature. Yet our natural world is threatened as never before. The threats are both numerous and interrelated, and no one institution, however effective, can hope to address them all alone.”

“It is for this reason that the work of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is so exceptional. By bringing together leaders in research, practice, policy and teaching, we stand the greatest chance of developing the solutions required to save our planet.”

earth-day-beautiful-logoOn its campus, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative will be hosting one of the worldwide  Earth Optimism public events being held to coincide with Earth Day April 22nd 2017, and it sounds like a happening absolutely not to be missed.

We are promised inspiring stories of hope, and talks by leading conservationists and naturalists. Topping the bill will be Dr Jane Goodall. Worth going just for that! There will also be a Solutions Fair with positive ideas of practical things we as individuals can do to make a difference.

To find out more click here   

If you’re interested in joining the Cambridge event look no further for your invitation:

“Given the crisis facing nature, it is all too easy to give up hope. Yet, around the globe we are winning the fight to protect the natural world. Deforestation is slowing down. Wetlands are being rebuilt. Numbers of some of our rarest creatures are on the rise. People are making this change happen. Stand with us on Earth Day 2017 to celebrate what is working and why. Discover how every one of us can become more involved in winning the fight – come to #EarthOptimism Cambridge.”

To register your interest click here. And on the day take the kids!

London is not to be outdone. The London Zoological Society is hosting their open-to-the-public event April 20th-22nd, “during which we will showcase positive actions that are making a difference in people’s relationships to nature and much more.”

Other venues for Earth Optimism happenings on and around Earth Day include Dallas, Washington DC , Santa Fe and Panama.

Earth Day‘s own website is also most definitely one worth checking out.

On Earth Day’s Take Action page there are – obviously – things we can take action on. But also a counter that has registered 2,023,369, 216 ‘Acts of Green’ – more than 2 billion, and with your help on the way to 3!

Earth Day invites you to join the movement here

community-1769575__340This is the wonderful thing the internet can do for us now – we can join a worldwide network of activists working together, encouraging and supporting each other. A trite thing to say, perhaps. But it’s good to remind ourselves that we are not as insignificant, alone and powerless as we feel in our blacker moments.

Together we can make a difference, and there is always hope.

Join the March for Science on Earth Day April 22, 2017 at the National Mall in Washington DC.

Get Involved. Join the movement. Act Now
Give To The Cause. Help power the movement. Donate
Spread the Word. Stay Connected.
Make your own contribution to fighting climate change by supporting Earth Day Network’s tree-planting Canopy Project here


Many wildlife and conservation groups published details of their wins in 2016.  To be cheered and encouraged some more, just click here to see the Center for Biological Diversity’s list of victories. And for the WWF’s here

And the Climate Reality Project tells us There’s Still Climate Hope in America despite President Trump’s worst efforts.


24th February 2017 – From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Director for Center for Biological Diversity: “It’s been just over a month since Inauguration Day. I wish I could say the news has gotten better since then, but it hasn’t. With one exception: the resistance keeps getting stronger. To keep building the movement, the Center is looking for volunteers to help bring the message of resistance to Earth Day festivals in every state. If you’d like to represent the Center at your local Earth Day event, send me an email.”

Buy your Earth Day tee here5939b1fcb6a83daf38a856d6_342x400


Sir David Attenborough opens global hub for nature conservation

A global movement to celebrate ‘the most precious thing in the world’: introducing #EarthOptimism

Join us to celebrate #EarthOptimism in Cambridge on 22nd April 2017

The Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit

Earth Day Network

Read more Has hope become the most endangered species on the planet? – The Guardian

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Half for Us Half for the Animals

My Vegan Path – Interview with Hanna Golan

Hanna,  passionately vegan for nearly 50 years, is  founder and coordinator of the Global Vegan Registry, just one of her many achievements

Q:  Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview Hanna. Let’s start with your earliest memories?  Where were you born? Did you have a passion for animals in your childhood?

A:  I, Hanna Golan, was born in Communist Poland in 1951 to a pair of Holocaust survivors, and that is where my vegan inclinations began to sprout.  The following are a number of evident scenarios:

1  At about 4 years of age, I recall accompanying my mother to the market where I spotted a caged dog.  I immediately broke into tears and begged to take the “jailed puppy” home.  Instead, my mother guided me to the fishmonger.  There she selected and paid for a live carp that, gasping and writhing, was tightly wrapped in a few layers of newspaper.  I cried all the way home.  As soon as we entered the front door I dashed to the kitchen, retrieved the largest container I could find and filled it with tap water.  I then demanded that my mother release the fish and she obliged.  Once the poor creature revived, I became its instant guardian – feeding it bread crumbs, singing to it and vigilantly observing its every move.  Tragically, the next morning my mother fished my swimming charge out of the water, hit it hard over the head and proceeding to prepare it for dinner.  Needless to say, I would never again eat fish!

2  My father was off work one morning and both my parents took me for a walk down the street.  Suddenly we witnessed a horse-pulled carriage tipping over and trapping the horse under one of its wheels.  My screams for someone, anyone to help save the horse were met on deaf ears as people rushed to the driver while the horse was being ignored.

I loved being taken to the nearby park where, admiring flowers, butterflies and bees, I tiptoed gingerly lest I trample an innocent bug.

Q:  Can you tell us more about your family? Clearly you weren’t brought up vegetarian or vegan

A:  By the time I was 6 (1957), my parents and I emigrated to Israel to get away from the ever-growing antisemitism in Poland.  Sincerely believing that milk and eggs were healthy for a growing girl like me, my parents took me to a working farm where they attempted to nourish me with fresh produce.  All those years ago, I did not appreciate the exploitation behind eggs and dairy but I refused them because no one bothered to ask the hens for permission to take their eggs and, likewise, no one got permission from the cows to take their milk.  It just seemed like those were stolen goods.  Thus, I never consumed eggs or dairy ever again.

Q:  Was there a particular event that made you decide to be vegan?

A:  I continued eating and enjoying poultry and beef until at the age of about 10, when my mother accidentally cut her finger and my father exclaimed, “it looks like raw meat.”  That did it!  That is the moment I made the connection that meat (poultry or beef) comes from live animals and that I had no business eating them!  Unfortunately, when I refused meat my parents had a fit, “You won’t eat fish, you won’t eat eggs or cheese, you won’t drink milk.  Now you don’t want to eat meat?!  What’s the matter with you?  Do you want to die?”  Being the good girl that I was and not wishing to upset my parents, I continued eating flesh for another 6 years.

At the age of 12 (1963), my parents and I moved to the United State – Los Angeles, California, to be exact.  I continued my struggle over my mother’s cooking but it wasn’t until 1968 (age 16) when I could no longer tolerate living that way.  I packed a bag of my school books and a few bits of clothing and moved out from under my parents’ roof.  I knew nothing about veganism back then but I was certain that I could never eat animal products again.  By then I also understood that leather, wool, silk and down feathers were products of cruelty and avoided them at all cost.  I relocated from one friend’s apartment to another while still going to school fulltime.  On top of it all, I had to get a job that would sustain me.

Q:  What was it like being vegan in 1968? Veganism was a very little known concept back then, wasn’t it?

A:  It took years before I met anyone as weird as me and before I learned the true meaning of veganism with its ramification of a holistic and all-encompassing plant-based lifestyle.  I couldn’t care less whether this was good for me, I just knew that I couldn’t and wouldn’t contribute to the exploitation and abuse of animals.  I subsisted on real food (fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes) back then because all the vegan alternatives that are so readily available today hadn’t yet been invented.

Still on my own, in 1969 I graduated high school with honors and transferred to UCLA to earn my Bachelor’s Degrees in biochemistry and mathematics.  I decided to do my postgraduate work in Israel where I got my Master’s in biochemistry from the Weizmann Institute of Science and my Master’s in mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  I fully intended to continue on to medical school but that was aborted by marriage and motherhood.

Q:  What sort of difficulties did you experience, practical, social, emotional? Did you ever waver?

A:  My parents and everyone else, including myself, my husband and my children, always considered me to be a nut-case, an oddball, an eccentric but none of that dissuaded me from my intended ethical path.  Except for mild chiding and teasing, people were mostly curious about what I’m doing and why and I was never shy or hesitant about giving them an earful.  As you might guess, I was a conversation piece at every gathering.  It wasn’t always easy or fun but I never wavered because I knew that this was what the Universe wanted me to do and who am I to argue with the Universe? Years later, by the way, my parents stopped eating meat and eggs although they still had some dairy.

In 1986, accompanied by my husband (whom I divorced since) and children, I moved back to Los Angeles County where I’m still living today.

Q:  You’re self-employed. Can you tell us about your work?

A:  Wanting to incorporate veganism more tightly into my professional life, I changed careers by becoming a freelance writer and graphic designer.  As of today, I’ve written and published:

  • vegan and veggie related books under my penname Hanna Getty (link here Amazon)
  • children’s books about animals under my penname Maya Lee Shye (link here Amazon)
  • and one book under my own name, Hanna Golan (link here Amazon)

I currently have 5 more vegan-related manuscripts that are awaiting publication.

Q:  What other vegan-related activities are you/have you been involved with?

A:  Attempting to spread the vegan message far and wide across the globe, I am very active on Facebook and manage multiple pages:

Hanna V. Golan
Sprout A Vegan
Vegan Blogger  & also here
Global Vegan Registry
Vegans in San Fernando Valley
Antelope Valley Vegans

In my spare time, I volunteer for a local rescue organization 2 to 3 times a week, I occasionally foster dogs and I host monthly vegan potlucks.

Q:  Are you ‘parent’ to any companion animals?

A:  I am a single parent to 4 special needs rescue animals (2 dogs and 2 cats).

Q:  Do you have hopes and dreams for the future?

A:  My dream is to establish a vegan outreach program that will be based out of an all-vegan, self-sufficient community that will strengthen vegan presence as well as increase awareness in the general public.

Q:  Finally, what would you hope to leave behind you as your legacy on this earth?

A:  The legacy that I wish to leave behind me is a world that is predominantly, if not entirely, inhabited by humans who choose compassion over cruelty.

Thank you again Hanna for agreeing to share something of your life with us. Yours is an amazing story. You are a truly remarkable advocate for compassionate living, and an inspiration to your fellow vegans.


Join the Global Vegan Registry here

Related posts – interviews with other remarkable vegans

A Picture of Compassion Chantal Poulin Durocher

Ama’s Story

Jo Frederiks – Artist for the Animals

Ryan Phillips – Ambassador for the Animals Extraordinaire

Anger & Beauty – Inspiration for Artist Andrew Tilsley

Dale Vince – Vegan Tycoon of Unwavering Vision


Extinction Is Forever: Why We Need To Change To Save Animals

We’re running out of time. It doesn’t matter what we know, if we don’t get the message out.

This is a heartfelt plea from Dana Hunnes, expert in conservation, nutrition, and climate change. Our dietary choices play a huge role in sustainability, climate change, saving animals as well as our personal health. But she says simply being vegan is not enough.

In this important article she urges us to take action, and suggests what everyone of us can and must do to help save our planet from the brink.

Dana writes:

I recently spoke at the “March Against Extinction” event in Los Angeles as a way to call attention to how our diets, behaviors, and choices influence whether or not a particular species survives.  While our individual choices represent a vote with our wallet, it is the policies and laws in various countries surrounding conservation, climate change, and agriculture that frequently play the larger role.

Right now in Taiji, Japan, dolphin hunts are underway. Every day from September 1 until March 1, dolphin hunters go out to the ocean and search for innocent dolphins, either to sell to amusement parks for hundreds of thousands of dollars, or to slaughter for “human consumption,” Yet, it is well known that dolphin meat has toxic levels of mercury, PCBs, and other chemicals; making this both a public-health and animal-rights issue.

The cruelty and injustice of these hunts cannot be understated.  The demand for these dolphins comes from amusement parks around the world who want to “show off” dolphins and their “little tricks.”  What’s more, dolphins are viewed as pests, competition for the fish that the world has overfished and removed from the oceans.

In sum: We take their fish, we make them toxic with chemicals that WE have dumped into their oceans, and then we blame them, and brutalize them.

These hunts, by the way, are sanctioned by the Japanese government. 

Read more

Please share, and take as many of the actions she suggests as you can. Nothing could be more important.


Source: Extinction is Forever: Why We Need to Change Our Consumption Habits to Save Animals | One Green Planet

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The Plant-Powered Teen behind the Earth Peace Foundation

The lovely young person in this picture  – no, I don’t mean the piggy one, though she is gorgeous too – as I was saying, this lovely young person and I have two things in common. First of all we are both committed vegans for the animals, the environment and the planet. And second, like many others we both draw inspiration from Albert Schweitzer. For her, “Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace” and for me his philosophy of “Reverence for Life” – one and the same thing of course.

Sadly for me, there the resemblance ends. Because this teenager is a wonder and has already accomplished more in her 14 years on the planet than I have in my … well, I don’t think I’ll divulge just how many years.

So meet Lila Copeland. At 8 years of age, already an activist, Lila’s CV included marching with fellow activists for GMO transparency and animal welfare, working to pass Prop 37 “California’s Right to Know” Act, as well as protesting factory farming.

By 10, this vegetarian-from-birth went vegan. And what a vegan she is, with a passion for sharing information with her peers, on “factory farm cruelty on animals, the cruelty of slaughter, the viability of living vegan, and how important that is to the planet.”

Age 11 she set up the Earth Peace Foundation. We can certainly see the influence of Dr Schweitzer in its mission statement:

We are for achieving peace between all species and preserving the earth’s ecological soundness for future generations

On the EPF’s website, informative videos, a reading list and useful web links. Best of all, “A Guide for Young People Going Vegan (and how to help your parents chill)”

Watch the video she made for Al Gore, Kevin Wall and the United Nations when she (then 13) discovered from Morrissey that unbelievably, animal products were on the menu at the climate change event Live Earth last year.

2016 sees Lila working on her latest project, the Healthy Freedom Campaign, to get vegan meal options in Los Angeles schools five days a week. No need for her to rely on just words for the benefits of the plant-based diet. As a Junior Olympian in long distance running and a keen surfer, shes’s the perfect demonstration of the fitness and energy vegan foods provide.

This is Lila with guess who addressing the LA schools board just last month, in her bid to get vegan meals into school cafeterias.

Lila Copeland Pamela Anderson Healthy Freedom Campaign LAUSD school meals vegan

As well as Pamela Anderson, she brought into the meeting Cowspiracy’s Dr Michael Klaper, athlete Torre Washington, and some notable health experts to explain the connection between animal products and heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. But what is more persuasive than vegan talk? Why vegan food of course. The schools board were treated to some tasty hot food samples, and were in Lila’s words, “blown away”.

Her ambitions are not small. (I guess we could have worked that out from the Earth Peace Foundation!) From LA to nationwide – Lila wants to see her Healthy Freedom Campaign taken up at federal level by 2020. And with a video like this, how can she fail?

This is how Lila shares her recipe for success with other young activists:

Be prepared “to be told no 100 times before you get a yes. If you get fatigued, just think about the animals who are dying every minute of every hour of every day against their will and you will have the strength to keep going.”

If there are inspiring passionate young vegans like Lila in the next generation, there’s hope for planet Earth yet.


Like Lila’s EPF Facebook page 

Sign petition following Lila’s plea to the Live Earth event, to ask world leaders for urgent action on climate change



One Green Planet

Earth Peace Foundation


More Good News For The ‘Post-Animal’ Food Age

As if yesterday’s good news was not enough!


Proof Meat Alternatives Are Better: Producing Beef Creates 90 Percent More Greenhouse Gas Emissions

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is! But in this case the news is all good. Lots more interesting and exciting facts and figures about ‘post-animal’ meat. The plant-based meat market is set to reach $5.2 billion by 2020. Wow!

The secret’s out… the meat industry is a destructive force and the time for change has come

According to a recently released study of the environmental impacts of 39 meat substitutes presented at the American Society for Nutrition Annual Meeting, across the board, plant-based meat alternatives were found to be associated with substantially lower emissions than actual meat.

A research team found that while the emissions generated to produce a typical 8-ounce steak is equivalent to driving a small car for about 29 miles, replacing that steak with the same weight of a plant-based meat alternative is like driving the same car just three miles.

Read more

Vegan Meal Delivery Startup Veestro Raises $1.5M to Fuel Expansion


Veestro vegan meal delivery service recieves $1.5 million fundraising influx and shares how they will use the new capital.

Now more than ever, consumers are looking for more plant-based, ready-to-eat meal options

“As Americans learn more about how food is directly tied to our health and well-being, as well as the health of the planet, they are seeking better options, namely less meat, and more plant-based foods,” said Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet. Additionally, he pointed out that “Millennials are driving this trend, because they care about things like health, as well as the environmental and social impact of their choices, but they also want fast, convenient food.  With over $1 trillion in buying power, this consumer segment alone has the power to shape our food market and by offering healthy, plant-based meals in convenient packages, companies like Veestro are poised for enormous success.”

Read more

What the World Needs to Hear from Philip Wollen

I was privileged to share this brilliant video in my post Jo Frederiks – Artist for the Animals, but it really merits – no, not just merits – demands its own stand-alone post. Please share his powerful address with your friends, dear people. It’s what the world needs to hear!


Phil’s speech at the opening of an exhibition of Jo Frederik’s art, The Animal Holocaust

Philip Wollen is someone very special. He is a big man with a big heart and most importantly he’s BIG on vision. Phil is a 59 year old Merchant Banker, OAM, Queens Birthday Honours 2005, Australian of the Year Victoria 2007 and Founder of The Winsome Constance Kindness Trust (WCKT) . Phil and his partner Trix work tirelessly to help those in need and sponsor over 200 non profit organizations around the world. When Phil founded the WCKT he stated it had five fingers, namely, “Children, Animals, the Ill, the Environment and Aspiring Youth” 

Read more and a lovely interview with Phil from

Jo Frederiks – Artist for the Animals

So Jo, can you tell us a little bit about yourself. Were you always making art as a child? Was there a moment when you knew that this is what you wanted to do and said to yourself, “I am an artist”?

I was always drawing as far back as I can remember. I loved the solitude of drawing and reading, and still do. When I was about 6, I fell in love with Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty. I read it countless times, which started an obsession with drawing horses.

Drawing 034

Then about 6 years ago when I was predominately a wildlife artist, I felt frustrated and disillusioned with my art. It all seemed rather pointless.

Drawing 014

I asked my partner for advice, and he said, “What are you passionate about?” I immediately replied, “Veganism!” And then proceeded to talk earnestly about the animal holocaust. He said, “Paint it. Paint what you’re passionate about.” That pivotal piece of advice completely changed my direction in life.

Tell us about your background. Were you brought up in a vegan family?

Hardly! My dad owned a number of cattle properties where thousands of nonhuman animals were bred and raised for the purpose of being killed. I quickly learnt to desensitise myself to the brutality of farm life, as all people in the outback must do. There was relentless killing, barbaric mutilations and absolute torture that we sanitise as “standard industry practice.” Those we belittle as ‘livestock’ were regarded as mere ‘things’ back then, and still are today. There was nothing remotely humane about any of it. Nothing. 

both are victims

Was there a particular event in your life that prompted you to choose vegan?

23 years ago I became a vegan overnight after attending an information night by Animal Liberation Victoria in Melbourne. Peter Singer was one of the speakers, hence I was introduced to his watershed classic, “Animal Liberation” which I immediately read. I was completely unaware of the horror of the dairy and egg industries before then.

What was the easiest thing for you about being vegan, and what the hardest?

The great part is knowing I no longer contribute to the needless suffering of sentient beings. The difficulty is dealing with society’s apathy and indifference to it all.

Are you ‘owned’ by any companion animals? Tell us about them.

I’m the guardian of 3 girls: Holly, Jess and Lucy. Two I adopted when I was fostering kittens at the Animal Welfare League on the Gold Coast. Holly though, she turned up lost and scared on my front door a couple of days before one Christmas. She’s a Ragdoll, so I can only presume she was meant as a ‘gift’ for someone and escaped.

What would a typical day look like for you?

I’m generally working alone in my studio – drawing or painting for the entire day. In the evening I search for material online that I can use for future concepts or to spark ideas. On the other hand, I may be with my wonderful partner assisting in the studio of another artist  he is interviewing for his art TV series Colour In Your Life. 

Can you tell us something about the techniques you use?

I mainly just draw in graphite now. Oil paint was my main medium. However I’ve recently decided to abandon it. It’s practically impossible to source paints free from animal by-products in Australia. I’ve now switched to Derwent pastel pencils and Velour paper as both are cruelty free.

Can you tell us if and how your art is informed by your beliefs? What inspires each picture? 

Nina Simone once said “An artist’s duty as far as I’m concerned is to reflect the times.” I hope my art work is holding a mirror up to society’s unjustifiable crimes against our fellow beings. I’ve found most people do not want to hear the facts when it comes to the suffering and environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture. Nor are they willing to look at graphic photos or confronting videos of helpless victims we reduce to ‘food’. They will look at a painting or sketch though. It’s a powerful and effective way to penetrate the deep-rooted denial, lies and indoctrination we were all born into. I hope my art inspires change.

How would you like to influence people through your art and your life?

Education and awarness. Art has the ability to make others aware of these social crimes. It’s like carving a marble statue with a feather – it’s a long and tedious job but one that has to be done if we are to save the Planet and our species for future generations.

The Animal Holocaust Exhibition

heather at farm animal rescue santuary

Jo and friend Heather – Carol Slater Photography

Find Jo on her website here

Going Vegan is Being on the Right Side of History

By James Corcoran

Over the course of my lifetime, I have witnessed many societal changes here in the U.S. — from civil rights, to women’s liberation, to the peace movement, Earth Day, smoking bans, gay rights — all are historically significant. Today we are on the verge of another enormous social change. The trend is clear and the momentum is building as educated and caring people, particularly millennials, are beginning to see non-human #animals as feeling individuals with their own desires and rights. They are shifting away from seeing them as property and resources for food, clothing, experimentation or entertainment.

As baby boomers learned early on, we don’t need a majority of Americans behind a cause to effect change; it occurs at a tipping point well below 50 percent. It actually requires almost single-digit percentage numbers to make change possible throughout the entire country. As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead famously wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Animal agriculture is wreaking havoc on Earth. With 7 billion-plus humans inhabiting the planet, we are running out of land and resources to produce animal foods for the masses. As Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, says in the documentary Cowspiracy, our survival as a species depends on drastically reducing animal food consumption “to about two ounces a week.”

Other reasons people are embracing veganism are to feed the world’s hungry, preserve peace, conserve natural resources, improve health, achieve sustained weight loss, and to demonstrate love and compassion for all animals.

To illustrate the changes that are occurring, a few interesting way-markers include: the latest president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr Kim Williams, is vegan; vegan ultra-marathoner, Scott Jurak, smashed the record for supported traverse of the Appalachian Trail; White Castle offers vegan veggie sliders nationwide; Subway has vegan sandwiches available at 1,000 locations (more to come) nationwide; Wendy’s is offering a black bean burger; IKEA introduced vegan meatless meatballs at all stores; Ben and Jerry’s is making a vegan ice cream line; a California school became the first in the country to go entirely vegan; Jon Stewart and wife Tracey are opening a farm animal sanctuary; life-altering documentaries like Cowspiracy, ForksOverKnives and Earthlings are streaming; U.S. meat consumption is down 10 percent in the last decade; and Stevie Wonder, Kale lCullen, Bono, Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus have gone vegan, joining dozens of other celebrities.

Social justice movements are tenacious, brazen and most importantly — successful. The number of vegans in the U.S., by one poll, is more than 22 million — relatively small in number but growing exponentially. Many of us baby boomers remember the enormous resistance we got from the “establishment” in the ’60s and ’70s. Today we are the establishment, and considering the far-reaching implications of our lifestyle choices, we now have to ask ourselves, what side of history do we want to be on?

James Corcoran lives in Santa Fe and is founder and co-organizer of Santa Fe Veg. He also co-founded Veg Michigan and Veg Fund.

RIP Diesel

On November 19th early in the morning while it was still dark the French police raided an apartment in St Denis, north Paris. BBC News was reporting as the drama unfolded. What it failed to mention was that of the Research, Assistance, Intervention and Deterrence (Raid) unit the first to go in was Diesel, a female Belgian Shepherd dog.

According to The Guardian newspaper “Diesel had been sent in to the apartment ahead of officers to ascertain how dangerous the situation was when it was shot dead.”

She was just 7 years old.

There is so much wrong with this – where do I start?

First of all, Diesel was not an ‘it’. She was a she. Calling her ‘it’ indicates that she is an object of no significance.

Then let’s talk about the early evening television news in which the raid was reported by various on-the-spot correspondents. I did not see one mention of Diesel. The only fatalities I heard reported were of the terrorists. Editors could be forgiven this omission earlier in the day but later, after the police tweet about her death, what was the excuse? Not important enough because she was just a dog?

Certainly not – she was an “anti-terror” dog and a decorated “hero” according to The Daily Mail which sports a photo of Diesel with her medals. Twitter went wild. A typical tweet read, “She died to defend our colours”.

What absolute codswallop! She was not a hero, she was not brave, she was not an anti-terror dog. The buzzphrase  these days seems to be ‘cognitive dissonance’. The widely varying ways the news of Diesel’s death was discussed is a perfect example. But then, there is always cognitive dissonance when humans think about non-human animals.

Diesel did not believe in the war on terror. She wasn’t defending western democracy and our liberal values. She hadn’t voted to drop bombs on Syria and Iraq. She was being used by humans for their own purposes. And she had no say in it. Unlike the police officers, she had not applied for the job. I’m sure that the officer responsible for her did a wonderful job of looking after her on a day-to-day basis. But the fact remains she was being used against her life’s best interests. She was being used exactly because she was dispensable – sent into danger first to safeguard  higher value animals – humans.

People mourn the death of Diesel, like Cecil the lion before her. For both, the ‘bad guys’ are blamed, the Minnesota dentist and now the Jehadi bride. In reality, it is the human race at large which is responsible for both tragic deaths. As long as we as a species hold on to our anthropocentrism, our belief that we are the crowning glory of creation, the top of the evolutionary tree, these memorable deaths will keep on occurring. Along with the unmemorable deaths of other animals who also wanted to live: the billions of cattle, sheep, chickens, pigs, turkeys whose lives are ended prematurely each day by the blood-stained hand of that pinnacle of being, the human.